August 19 2015 Presentation

August 19, 2015 - 8 pm:  Public Institute of Maya Studies Presentation

Maximón: Maya Cultural Hero in the Navel of the World,  – with IMS Explorer newsletter editor Jim Reed

There’s no way that I could say it any better myself – the following words speak of Maximón from a native’s point of view. This story comes from local oral tradition and was written down by an Atiteco (a citizen of Santiago Atitlan), and is published on the town’s own website at


“At times very wise and times very crazy, the figure of Maximón has confused outsiders for many years. The combination of saint/devil is one of the strongest remnants of the native philosophy in Santiago Atitlan. Although encouraged at first by the Catholic Church, Maximón was eventually persecuted and at one time made to go underground. Because of his great influence, he was very much feared by the Church and, in order to deal with him, they represented him as Judas of Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus. To the people of Santiago, however, he represents something completely different. Maximón means ‘he who is tied with string or lasso’. Ri Laj Mam means ‘great grandfather’ or, in other words, the grandfather of all the people of the village of Santiago Atitlan.”




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The Lord of Looking Good. That’s his humorous – yet ironically apropos – nickname as christened by North American researcher Robert S. Carlsen.









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(Right) Although of unknown origin, Maximon is said to be a manifestation of the Maya god Mam, who reigned over the five day period between the end of one year and the beginning of the next and who was represented as a wooden doll dressed in human clothes. Mam by Janet Miess.








eventb ph3When Catholicism was superimposed over Maya beliefs during the 16th and 17th centuries, Mam became integrated with St. Simon. His name is a combination of max, the Mayan word for tobacco, and Simon. For this reason, he is always represented with a cigarette or a large cigar between his lips.


 All meetings are at 8 pm • Institute of Maya Studies • Miami Science Museum • Maya Hotline: 305-279-8110

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Copyright 2012 August 19 2015 Presentation. The Institute of Maya Studies is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Your charitable contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
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